Kamis, 27 September 2018

Getting started with the Fujifilm GFX 50R

Getting started with the Fujifilm GFX 50R
© Pascale Brites
A really lightweight case! In a detailed press presentation, we were able to quickly take over a copy of the Fujifilm GFX 50R. Our model is not fully functional and does not even have the final coating at its hatches. This did not prevent us from appreciating the ergonomics and especially the lightness.

It's a long tradition at the Japanese manufacturer. Since 1948 with the release of Fujica Six, the brand is present in the medium-format sector with devices designed for reporting. It is the specific form of these products that inspired Fujifilm for its GFX 50R: its offset viewfinder on the left gives it the look of telemetry cameras. It must be said that Fujifilm has made this neo-vintage look a real hallmark since the launch of its hybrid X-mount range. Although it is equipped with a medium-format sensor, it is more X-Pro 2 only to a GFX 50S that makes us think the device. But it should not be forgotten that the GFX 50R remains bulky.

Slightly longer than its average-format senior, the camera remains imposing with a footprint similar to that of a film-based reporting device such as a Mamiya 7 for example. Nevertheless, note the efforts made by Fujifilm to refine the case that measures only 66.4 mm thick. Above all, it's the weight of the device that impressed us with only 775g on the scale. Equipped with a fixed focal length as the 63 mm that we see in the photo, the set is really light and perfectly suitable for travel.

This is the main objective of Fujifilm: to get the medium-format system out of studios to make it portable. The brand has for this purpose provided seals at different strategic points of the housing.

Getting started with the Fujifilm GFX 50R
© Pascale Brites
If it has an off-center viewfinder, the GFX 50R unfortunately does not have a hybrid optical / electronic vision as the X-Pro 2. A problem of space according to Fuji, but also feedback from users who would be so used to the electronic view that they would neglect the optical sight we were told. Still, we have high expectations around this viewfinder equipped with an Oled panel of 3.69 Mpts and that our first contact is not very positive. The magnification is less important than on the GFX 50S and the display lacks fluidity. We will need a definitive model to judge. But it is true that since we have been watching the excellent viewfinder of the X-T3, we have become very demanding!

Fujifilm GFX 50R
© Pascale Brites
Although it does not have a marked handle, the GFX 50R is very easy to handle and is pleasant to handle. On top, the two adjustment knobs are easily accessible. Locking the speed setting prevents unintentional manipulation, while exposure correction is set far enough to stay in place. On the back of the camera there is an adjustable thumb wheel, shortcut buttons to different functions and especially a joystick that we appreciate so much to quickly change the AF point. That of the GFX 50R works only in contrast and it will be necessary to wait for the output of GFX 100 million pixelsto enjoy a hybrid system. Our first tests still showed good responsiveness.

Getting started with the Fujifilm GFX 50R
© Pascale Brites
In the back still, the screen is oriented only horizontally. No doubt a choice related to the size that avoids the disgraceful outgrowth of the GFX 50S. From this screen, we can navigate menus that Fujifilm has unfortunately not changed. On the other hand, good surprise, the menu Q is compatible with the tactile features of the screen. As on the X-T3, we can easily change the fingertip a lot of settings.

Getting started with the Fujifilm GFX 50R
© Pascale Brites
Before having a functional box to carry out more in-depth tests, let's end this overview with connections. The GFX 50R has a microphone jack on its left shoulder, next to the viewfinder. Under the device, there is a USB-C port and a power outlet located opposite to the hatch under which the battery is housed, identical to that of the GFX 50S. Finally, on the right side of the device, two hatches provide access to the mini-HDMI port and the dual slot for SD cards. Like all the latest Fujifilm cameras, GFX 50R has a low power Bluetooth connection. On the other hand, unlike the GFX 50S, it does not have a headphone jack.

Getting started with the Fujifilm GFX 50R
© Pascale Brites

Getting started with the Fujifilm GFX 50R
© Pascale Brites

Some questions to Makoto Oishi
On the sidelines of the presentation of the new devices, we were able to ask some questions to some Japanese officials including Makoto Oishi, development manager for the GXF 50R. 

Following the presentation of the X-T3, we were all waiting for an X-Pro3. Is the GFX 50R the new successor of side-view cameras?

Makoto Oishi: No, absolutely not. You know, a lot of people have asked us, an X-Pro3. At Fujifilm, there are two separate ranges with APS-C format and medium format. The new GFX 50R belongs to this family and if I can not tell you if there will be an X-Pro3, the medium-format does not replace this one. 

Getting started with the Fujifilm GFX 50R
Makoto Oishi and his prototype of GFX 50R. © Renaud Labracherie.

With the X-Pro3 which is the only "range finder" model, you have used a hybrid vision system that is both optical and electronic. Why not use this system with the GFX 50R?

Makoto Oishi: It's true that this hybrid system is a lot of fun, but it was difficult for us to integrate this system in the GFX 50R because we changed a lot of elements inside and especially the battery which is now under the viewfinder. A hybrid view involves an optical system that is quite complex to implement, and in particular for a medium format package. The set was too big to fit into the case. 

Why not integrate, as on your next GFX 100 model, a mechanical stabilization system and a phase-correlated autofocus on the sensor?

Makoto Oishi: Ah ... Yes, we would have liked. For the electronic stabilization system, we did not have the system at the time and it takes up a lot of space and for us compactness was a priority. For autofocus, the current sensor just does not allow it and could not offer a phase correlation system on this case.

For video recording you stay on a fairly (too) conventional format in H.264 / H.265 which is not necessarily very easy to work and edit. Why not propose recording in ProRes format for example?

Makoto Oishi: That would be interesting, but it does involve a lot of calculation and currently I do not think we can do it with the current processors.
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